This is a story about how a photo book or photo video montage can help a dementia patient build new memories based on old photographs.
My aunt started looking for her husband about a couple months ago. This is a new twist to her dementia condition. No, this is not a story of a dementia woman looking for her spouse who has been dead for many years already. Her husband is right there in the same room with her. Though she can’t understand why she feels comfortable, a sense of familiarity, with this gentle grey-haired old man, she insists he’s not her husband. Her husband is young, about thirty-ish, and handsome as can be.
If you’ve not had a loved one suffer this condition, it may be very hard for you to understand how frustrated, earnest and insistent the loved one can be about her view of the world. You may succeed in correcting her after you turn blue explaining thirty years have passed. She may reluctantly accept this gentleman as the man she married, then relapse again the next day.
Since it’s so difficult to correct her memories, we helped her build new ones. Her children gathered photographs all the way back from her wedding day, scan the photos to digital images, and b
uilt a video montage that spans 30 years, from her wedding days, to when the kids were young, including vacation trips with her husband when they were in their thirties, forties, fifities, all the way to the present. All in all, we used 156 photos, and created a 14 and a half minutes of music video montage that was beautiful, touching, and memory-building.
Maybe it’s too early to tell, but for the last couple of weeks since she watched the video montage – over and over and over
again – she has accepted this kind, gentle older man who reaches out his hand to hold hers ever so often, as her sweet husband after all.
I am a memory keeper. I’m not a therapist or physician - who knows if this is conventional therapy for dementia patients, but if you have someone in your family suffering from dementia, it may be worth a try to build a memory book or memory video slideshow spanning the decades of years that have blurred in their minds.